The Toronto Blue Jays will try to extend their winning streak to four games in the opener of a three-game series against the visiting Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night in Dunedin, Fla.
The Blue Jays completed a three-game sweep of the host Atlanta Braves on Thursday with an 8-4 victory.
The Blue Jays have won all six games against the Braves this season. They again feasted on Atlanta's bullpen Thursday, with one run in the eighth and four in the ninth.
"If our pitching does the job, we're always going to have a chance," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. "That's been true these past three games. If the pitching keeps us within reach, we have a chance."
He said "it was good to see" Cavan Biggio and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. have good at-bats. "Those are two guys who were really struggling and hitting around .200, but the at-bats have been a lot better. Once they get going, this lineup will really stretch out, and that's what happened today."
At 20-16, the Blue Jays are four games above .500 for the first time this season.
The Phillies failed to complete a three-game sweep of the host Washington Nationals on Thursday with a 5-1 loss.
Right-hander Vince Velasquez (1-0, 4.18 ERA) will start for the Phillies on Friday. He is 2-0 with a 3.94 ERA in three career starts against Toronto. Last season, he was 2-0 with a 4.09 ERA in two starts against the Blue Jays.
Left-hander Steven Matz (5-2, 4.86) will make his eighth start for Toronto. He is 2-5 with a 6.10 ERA in 12 career games (11 starts) against the Phillies. He allowed six runs in 4 1/3 innings in his only outing last season against Philadelphia.
Before their game on Thursday, the Phillies put catcher J.T. Realmuto on the COVID-19 list after he felt ill during the 5-2 victory over Washington on Wednesday night.
Phillies manager Joe Girardi said Realmuto had a fever and a stomachache while sitting in the dugout. Realmuto has tested negative for COVID-19, but Girardi said the symptoms forced the team to place him in COVID-19 protocols.
Realmuto reported to Nationals Park on Thursday morning but was sent away and did not travel to Florida with the team.
"You can't let someone with a stomachache and a small fever walk around your clubhouse today," Girardi said. "In a normal year, you wouldn't worry about it. But you can't do that now."
The Phillies had hoped that Realmuto would start Thursday after missing the game Wednesday with a knee contusion from a foul tip on Tuesday.
"The protocol is through the league," Girardi said. "I'm not sure when we'll get him back."
Realmuto was replaced by catcher Rafael Marchan, who was recalled from Triple-A. Shortstop Didi Gregorius left the game Wednesday with stiffness in his right elbow and did not play Thursday.
Toronto second baseman Marcus Semien was 2-for 5 Thursday to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. Bo Bichette had an 11-game hitting streak for the Blue Jays, April 3-14. Semien is batting .388 (19-for-49) during his streak, with three home runs, 10 runs scored and 10 RBIs.
The Blue Jays are starting a 10-game homestand that ends their Florida stint. Their home games move to Buffalo on June 1.
--Field Level Media